Cultural Psychology

Gandhi on Prayer

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Mahatma Gandhi crop

No act of mine is done without prayer. Man is a fallible being. He can never be sure of his steps.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 25 Sept 1924, p. 313)

As food is necessary for the body, prayer is necessary for the soul. A man may be able to do without food for a number of days … but, believing in God, man cannot, should not live a moment without prayer.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 15 Dec 1927, p. 424)

Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.
~  Gandhi (Autobiography, p. 51)

I can give my own testimony and say that a heartfelt prayer is undoubtedly the most potent instrument that man possesses for overcoming cowardice and all other bad old habits.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 20 Dec 1928, p. 420)

Not until we have reduced ourselves to nothingness can we conquer the evil in us. God demands nothing less than complete self-surrender as the price for the only real freedom that is worth having. And when a man thus loses himself, he immediately finds himself in the service of all that lives. It becomes his delight and his recreation. He is a new man, never weary of spending himself in the service of God’s creation.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 20 Dec 1928, p. 420)

There is an eternal struggle raging in man’s breast between the powers of darkness and of light, and he who has not the sheet-anchor of prayer to rely upon will be a victim to the powers of darkness. The man of prayer will be at peace with himself and with the whole world; the man who goes about the affairs of the world without a prayerful heart will be miserable and will make the world also miserable.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 23 Jan 1930, p. 26)

Prayer is the only means of bringing about orderliness and peace and repose in our daily acts…. Take care of the vital thing and other things will take care of themselves. Rectify one angle of a square, and the other angles will be automatically right.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 23 Jan 1930, p. 26)

It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 23 Jan 1930, p. 25)

Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 23 Jan 1930, p. 25)

I am giving you a bit of my experience and that of my companions when I say that he who had experienced the magic of prayer may do without food for days together, but not a single moment without prayer. For without prayer there is no inward peace.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 23 Jan 1930, p. 25)

Let every one try and find that, as a result of daily prayer, he adds something new to his life, something with which nothing can be compared.
~  Gandhi (Young India, 24 Apr 1931, p. 274)

There are many who, whether from mental laziness or from having fallen into a bad habit, believe that God is and will help us unasked.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 28 Apr 1946, p. 109)

Silent communion will help them to experience an undisturbed peace in the midst of turmoil, to curb anger and cultivate patience.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 28 Apr 1946, p. 109)

It should be the general rule that prayers must not be delayed for anybody on earth.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 5 May 1946, p. 113)

True meditation consists in closing the eyes and ears of the mind to all else except the object of one’s devotion. Hence the closing of eyes during prayers is an aid to such concentration. Man’s conception of God is naturally limited. Each one has, therefore, to think of Him as best appeals to him, provided that the conception is pure and uplifting.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 18 Apr 1946, p. 265)

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 14 Apr 1946, p. 80)

When the mind is completely filled with His spirit, one cannot harbour ill-will or hatred towards anyone and, reciprocally, the enemy will shed his enmity and become a friend. It is not my claim that I have succeeded in converting enemies into friends, but in numerous cases it has been my experience that, when the mind is filled with His peace, all hatred ceases.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 28 Apr 1946, p. 109)

God answers prayer in His own way, not ours. His ways are different from the ways of mortals. Hence they are inscrutable. Prayer presupposes faith. No prayer goes in vain.
~  Gandhi (Harijan, 29 Jun 1946, p. 209)

Source: The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi: Encyclopedia of Gandhi’s Thoughts. Compiled & Edited by R. K. Prabhu & U. R. Rao. Ahmedabad, 1967.


Autobiography = An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth: M. K. Gandhi. Translated from Gujarati by Mahadev Desai. Ahmedabad: 1927 (vol. 1), 1929 (vol. 2); edition used: 1959.

Young India = Young India (1919–1932). English-language periodical; published bi-weekly from Bombay under Gandhi’s supervision from May 7, 1919; weekly from Ahmedabad with Gandhi as editor from October 8, 1919.

Harijan = Harijan (1933–1956). English-language weekly journal founded by Gandhi; published in Poona from 1942; suspended publication in 1940 during the “Individual Satyagraha”; resumed in January 1942, but stopped appearing during the Quit India Struggle; reappeared in 1946.


Written by John Uebersax

December 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm

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